Lt. Governor says political parties can’t kick out candidates who gather signatures

Posted at 4:01 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 18:01:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY — In a memo issued on Tuesday, Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox declared that political parties cannot kick out candidates who gather signatures to get on the ballot.

The Lt. Governor’s memo, in the form of an FAQ about changes in Utah’s election laws, appeared directed at the Utah Republican Party, which is suing the state over signature-gathering.

Read the Lt. Governor’s memo here

Cox said candidates get to choose which path they take to try to get on a primary ballot, whether it be signature gathering or the caucus/convention system. The Lt. Governor said voters could not be removed from a political party if they signed a petition for a candidate.

“Furthermore, there is no basis in law to support such an action. Under SB54 any voter ‘affiliated’ with the party, based upon the voter’s party affiliation designation submitted by the voter and entered into the official register, is allowed to sign a petition on behalf of a candidate for that party. As such, any attempt to remove an otherwise qualified and affiliated voter that signs a candidate petition will be rejected,” Cox wrote.

The Utah Republican Party recently filed a new lawsuit against the state over signature gathering and SB54, a compromise law that created an alternative path for candidates to get on the ballot.